The New York Times says a new state law designed to expedite medical releases for elderly prisoners has has little effect. It cites the case of Eddie Jones, 89, a convicted murderer who is dying of heart disease and probably cancer at an upstate prison. The law, passed with the state budget last April, makes chronically and terminally ill inmates eligible for early release, including violent criminals like Jones.
But despite fanfare within the corrections field about the humanitarian and financial benefits of compassionate release – New York is one of a dozen states that have expanded, enacted or streamlined programs over the past two years – the policy shift has had minimal effect. Experts attribute this to the fear that freed inmates, no matter how sick, might commit further crimes, as well as to the difficulty of placing dying criminals in nursing homes.